I’ve often thought that many people view God through the lens of their experiences with their own father. As we often refer to ourselves as His children, this makes sense to me. For some, God is the absentee parent and they have a difficult time connecting. For others, God is the wise parent doling out wisdom and guidance as needed. For still others, God is the loving parent who is the safe place in a storm. And the list goes on.
For myself, I was born on Father’s Day and although I like to joke with my brothers that I was the best present he ever got, I’ve often thought it was the other way around as he is the best dad a girl could have wanted.
My dad was in the Navy so traveled a lot. Back in the days before cell phones and FaceTime, contact when he was at sea was limited to letters and the occasional phone call which was maybe once a month, on average. My dad was great about sending me letters describing the places he visited and the sites he saw and this is likely the source of my love for travel. I wonder if the Corinthian, the Philippian, the Colossian, and the other churches that Paul wrote to were as excited to receive letter from him as I was to get letters from my dad.
To hear what was going on in my dad’s world, to receive words of affection and encouragement with whatever he knew about the things I was dealing with … that meant the world to me. And as a result, I never felt like I had an absentee parent – exactly the opposite, in fact. No matter where I was and where my dad was, I knew he loved me and that he cared about what was happening in my life and that he prayed for me regularly in addition to providing whatever guidance he could.
I think the churches Paul wrote to likely felt the same – that although they were struggling with things locally, someone far away cared very much what was happening to them. I don’t know if they translated that experience to an analogy for God loving them no matter where they were or not, but I hope so. I certainly did. No matter where I’ve been in my relationship with the Lord over the years, I’ve never once doubted that He loved me and cared about me regardless of what was going on or how I felt about myself at any given moment. That steadfast Father’s Love has been a constant blessing in my life – both from my earthly and heavenly fathers.
I know some of us have family living locally while others have family that are farther away. My folks and both my brothers live in other states and I miss the freedom to just pop over for a visit if the mood strikes me to head out of town. It used to be that my primary concerns for planning a trip were my dogs, work, and their availability for a visit. Now it’s a bit more complicated than that and I am very much looking forward to the day when I can just load the beagle boys into the car and head out again. But until that day arrives (and all parties on both sides are comfortable with it), I shall take comfort in Genesis 31:49: “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of another’s sight.”
Offered by Pam Jones
Starting this week, our devotionals are going out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, with an occasional lagniappe issue. Please look for these congregation devotionals in your email box at about 6:45 a.m.